African Fashion International (AFI), organisers of the Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban Fashion Weeks, is proud to announce ARISE Africa Fashion Week, a showcase of the continent's leading fashion designers at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, from the 12 to 20 June 2009.
Arise Africa Fashion Week is an eight day celebration of the aesthetic and unique design signature of African fashion, brought together under one roof, overcoming ethnicity and cultural disparity to take African fashion to the world.
With 51 designers from 21 countries participating, ARISE Africa Fashion Week is creating history. This is the very first African fashion week and it is set to become an annual event, travelling around Africa each year following the 2010 showcase.
Africa has produced many notable fashion designers who have made their mark and are recognised on the world fashion stage, including the celebrated Azzedine Alaia from Tunisia, Oswald Boateng from Ghana, Deola Sagoe from Nigeria and Marc Bouwer from South Africa, all of whom have dressed celebrities, politicians and models to great acclaim for some years.
Many of the designers participating in Arise Africa Fashion Week have dressed celebrities themselves. Lalesso, a Kenyan design and manufacturing operation, with South African distribution, has seen their garments on Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Rihanna and Estelle. With a concession in the TopShop flagship store in Oxford Street in London, they are already fast becoming a name to know in the fashion industry, despite being in operation for only four years.
Nigerian born, Samantha Cole has shown her work in London and New York, winning best women's wear designer in 2008. Having trained at London College of Fashion and honed her craft in the Burberry design room under the creative directorship of Christopher Bailey, Samantha now brings her own designs back to Africa.
The Tiffany Amber label from Nigeria, has also received a favourable response from the critics in New York. Participating in the Arise Africa Fashion Collection at Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week earlier this year, the final look was walked out by none other than singer Grace Jones, to an overwhelming response from the crowd.
The timeless designs of bridal and evening wear designer, Gert van de Merwe will also be on show in South Africa for the first time in many years. Having established his studio in London in 2002, he has gone on to become one of the designers of choice for brides in London, having been invited to show his collection at Kensington Palace in 2006, under the patronage of Princess Michael of Kent.
Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, chairperson of African Fashion International, says, “At AFI, our mission is to take African fashion to the world. In fulfilling this mandate, I take enormous pleasure in launching the inaugural Arise Africa Fashion Week. This event affords the regions' creative economy with a world-class opportunity to showcase to a global audience. This is the first step in ensuring that the region receives the benefit of its own creative intellectual property, history and culture.”